Thursday, September 13, 2012

Off the Cuff, my first foray into tech editing

I spend a lot of time on chatting with other designers, learning the ins and outs of being a designer, and discovering the commonalities that all good designs share.  This brought to my attention Tech Editing. 

I first shied away from tech editing because, quite simply, in my ignorance of what it was I thought it was only applicable to graded garments.  The learning curve was so steep at the beginning of my life as a designer, that like grading, tech editing got pushed to the back of my mind.  Way back, in the dark spot where dust collects and the little grey cells chill until the conscious mind reaches back, cleans them up and gives them another look.

Last month, that is what the conscious mind decided to do.  So I started to research tech editing/ editors. 

I searched through a few tech editors and landed upon Katherine Vaughan.  She was available (a rare thing for a tech editor with a good reputation)!!!  I wanted to see just what the process entailed, so I sent “Off the Cuff.”  

Off the Cuff Cowl
“Off the Cuff” is the first beginner level pattern I’m releasing, so I thought it would make a good trial case.  Katherine returned the pattern about a week later with no less than 14 comments.  Here I thought the pattern was in good shape.  I quickly realized what Tech Editing is, it is a study in minutia!!  But still a study in minutia with a purpose… to write as universally understood a pattern as possible.  The pattern was usable in its current state, but not stylized or universal.  

Off the Cuff Cowl Pattern Cover

Firstly, my major sin was a sin of omission that affected metric users.  I wrote only using US standards.  As a Canadian, I really should have known better.  But alas, living in the States for *ah-hmm decades, has made me a US standard snob.  It reminds me of what C.S. Lewis wrote in “Surprised by Joy” about contemporary views of generations of old – “chronological snobbery.”  Save for me it “measurement snobbery.”   

Secondly, the problem of reading from the point of view of knowing what you are intended rather than what you actually wrote also reared its ugly little head.  I wrote the directions “[k1, p1] repeat to end,” except the pattern runs over an odd number of stitches.  So technically it is impossible to [k1, p1] to end.  I thought it was inferred that you would end on a k1.  But no, infer nothing in pattern writing!

Finally, punctuation, in my writing I love to use commas, ellipses, semi-colons, hyphens, dashes, anything and everything except periods.  Apparently, this holds true in my pattern writing too.  I hate periods, since they represent the cessation of a thought and my thoughts tend to string.  Alas, I yielded and followed the proper format of placing a period at the end of each direction.

So with my mistakes fixed, I sent it back for one more review.  This time, it only came back with 6 errors.  I and metric must really have been at odds when I was writing.  Although I had added metric to the pattern, on one measurement reference, I converted incorrectly.  I missed updating one of those “[k1, p1]” sections, too.  And yes, one line of directions sneaked through without a period indicating cessation. 

In conclusion, self-editing is about as useful as asking yourself if your hem is straight.  It just doesn’t work.  From here on out, Tech Editing, Definitely! 

Note: I’ll be sending my previously published patterns to tech edited too and will update all the listings when completed.

1 comment:

  1. Good to read this.
    Makes me realise, how much work the designers do, to bring us wonderful patterns